Join Our Other 100,000 Fans!

Why does my dog eat poop?

french bulldog on the floor playing with toilet paper looking like they have to poop

Coprophagy, or the act of eating feces, is a topic that most dog owners don't want to discuss openly. Unfortunately, sometimes our four legged, furry friends don't care about what's embarrassing to us. So, we as dog owners sometimes have to address this behavior.

When and where does eating feces start?

The most obvious question you're probably asking yourself is "when the heck did my pal pick up this behavior?" This proves to be a good starting point when you're talking about this kind of topic. And, for most dogs, it's learned initially in the litter when they are still puppies. When puppies are small and still taking milk from their mother, the mother will often eat the feces of the puppies. This is mostly a primal instinct that is ingrained in a dog which in the wild serves a variety of purposes. It helps to keep the ‘den' neat and tidy, and helps to prevent attracting predators due to the scent. During this stage, puppies are still learning how to act like dogs, which is learned most of that from their mother.

Why do puppies eat their own or their littermates' feces?

The simple answer here is, well, it just depends. There's a lot of reasons why a pup might be eating their own or someone else's feces.

Digestion Issues

One reason that a pup might be eating their own poop could be related to poor digestion of the food, or even poor quality food. The food could be low in nutrients, and is basically coming out the same way it went in. Or, the pup may be having digestion issues and not fully breaking the food down while consuming the nutrients out of it. In these cases, the feces essentially tastes the same as when it was first ate, and the pup may still be hungry. Switching to a higher quality food may solve this. If not, you should consult a vet to get him checked out.

Hunger

Going along with the previous reason, if the pup is still hungry due to worms or parasites in their intestines the pup may try to supplement their regular food supply with whatever they think might be edible. This could lead to other problems such as chewing on furniture, clothing, or other things found in the immediate vicinity. And, it is possible that the pup simply isn't getting enough to eat during the day. Like human babies, puppies are growing and need to consume a lot of food in order to sustain their bodies and continue the process of cell growth.

Boredom and Attention

If puppies are left alone for long periods of time, they may simply get bored and start playing with whatever is available for them to play with. This could be toys, their dog bed, your tennis shoes, and even their own poop. If the problem is persistent and you've already addressed it prior, the pup may continue to do it for the extra attention that they're receiving from you.

No Reason At All

This is probably the most unsatisfying answer that you will ever receive in your life, but some dogs just do it because they can. It's a frustrating answer, I know, but some dogs are like that. They will eat their own feces just because it's there and they feel like it.

Why is my adult dog eating his own poop?

For some adult dogs, the habit of eating their own feces has been ingrained in them since they were puppies. The behavior was never corrected, so they continue to do it into adulthood. If it has only recently started happening, it could be a digestive issue or poor quality food. Try switching to a quality food with plenty of nutrients and see if that helps. If not, you may want to get your pal checked out.

How safe is it for a dog to eat their own feces?

This is probably one of the nastiest things you've ever seen your dog do. If they're eating their own poop, they're probably in the clear as far as safety goes. For dogs who've recently gotten over a case of worms or something of that nature, they could possibly reacquire the thing you just fought to get rid of via their own waste. It's not recommended to let them eat other dogs' poop or other species' poop as they may contract something from it. Aside from the killer breath, it's pretty much harmless to your dog when they're eating their own.

How do I stop my puppy from eating his own feces?

Quality Food

If it's an issue of poor nutrients from food, try changing the dog food you are using. It could be that your dog isn't getting the nutrients he needs, or your dog assumes that it is food since it essentially tastes the same both rounds. A higher quality food with plenty of nutrients for your dog may solve this problem especially in puppies which are still growing and developing.

Plenty of Playtime and Quality Time

In the case of puppies doing it out of boredom or wanting attention, make sure that they are getting all of the playtime, exercise, and attention from you that they need. Puppies have a lot of energy and get bored easily, so having plenty of toys and activities is recommended to keep them occupied. Spending quality time with them playing and reinforcing your bond is also recommended, as they may be doing it out of sheer attention seeking.

Be Diligent with Cleaning

Remember that for dogs, it is a learned habit to keep the den clean. So when your puppy relieves himself, make sure to clean up his waste quickly and promptly. Do not give him a chance to play with his own poop, especially if it has already become a habit.

How can I stop my adult dog from eating his own feces?

Sometimes for older dogs, it's already a learned habit that is going to be hard to break. If the habit wasn't curved when he was a puppy, it may be best to leave well enough alone. If it's something that has recently developed, it may be time for a trip to the Vet just to make sure everything is running the way it should. And while it isn't the most amazing habit that we would want, it's mostly harmless when it's their own. Some of the same techniques mentioned for puppies are appropriate here: keeping him occupied, quality food, and making sure to keep his area clean.

Some feces such as cat feces or horse feces are kinda like heroin to dogs and they might find it too good to pass up. In which case the best treatment is just to make sure that your dog won't have access to these ‘treats'.